The summer COVID surge across Europe has hospitals worried about what might happen this winter, the HSE Chief Clinical Officer has told Newstalk Breakfast.
This morning, there were 981 patients with the virus in hospital, down from over 1,000 earlier in the week.
There were 46 in intensive care, the third day in a row the figure has been over 40.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, HSE CCO Dr Colm Henry said more than half of the patients in hospital have not been boosted – and one-third have not been vaccinated at all.
“We are still seeing those who haven’t got vaccinated or those who haven’t received the booster disproportionately represented where the virus can do harm,” he said. “That is in hospitalisations.”
He said it is “very worrying” to see the hospital system under pressure at the height of summer.
“The time of the year worries us,” he said. “We are seeing levels of presentation, stress and exhaustion that normally, we would associate with December, January and a flu surge, but we’re seeing it at the end of June and right through the middle of July.
“We see hospitals under extraordinary pressure in terms of the numbers of presentations and the proportion of those who are older people who are sick and that is contributed to, in no small part, by the current surge of COVID activity, driven by this variant.”
He said healthcare systems right across Europe are worried about the coming winter.
“They are looking at the flu trends in Australia,” he said. “We have had a relatively good two years free of influenza.
“There are lots of reasons for that but certainly, an early flu season with a surge of cases in Australia, coupled with further variant would create huge pressures for the healthcare system.”
He said people should remember that the “pandemic is not nearly over” and the virus is still capable of pulling out surprises.